When inaction is no longer an option…

President Barack Obama, yesterday, held a conference on the new gun laws on which he had taken executive action. The very fact he had to take unilateral action in order to bring this to law is unbelievable. Even so, it is a huge step in the right direction for the United States and for gun control. 

When I was in 1st year of high school, my youngest sister was in Primary 1 – in Scotland, the first year of primary school. She was 5 years old in March 1996.  

A lone gunman went on a shooting spree at Dunblane Primary School, Scotland on March 13th 1996. Thomas Hamilton shot at random in a school gym and killed 15 children and their teacher in the space of 3 minutes. The children were a primary one class of 5 and 6 years olds. 

My baby sister sat in a primary one classroom 50 miles away when this happened. It could have been her. 

Within months, gun laws in the UK had changed, making it almost impossible to own a gun without legitimate  reason and completing reams and reams of paperwork. Such was the outrage and horror at what had taken place in that school gym that the change in law was not questioned. Our heartbreak was demonstrated through the legacy that we left in the wake of that awful day. 

On the 14th December 2012,  a lone gunman attacked an elementary school on Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 staff members. The children who lost their lives were just 6 and 7 years old. The children were being shielded by their teachers. 

Yet, President Obama was faced with a blockade on his proposed changes to gun legislation. In the face of multiple school shootings and the tens of thousands of people who are killed in shootings every year in the States, there was nothing. Inaction. 

When I think about my day-to-day working life, those who know me know that I wouldn’t hesitate to shield the children I teach. My best friend once told me that terrified her but she knows there would be no other choice. I hate that it is a reality of my teaching life that I have to think through what I would do were I placed in that situation. Yet, I know I would do no less than what those teachers did. 

Even so, I thankfully work in places where that reality is distant. But for my fellow teaching colleagues in the USA, it is frighteningly real. 

President Obama, yesterday, took executive action on gun legislation, making it much harder for guns to fall into the hands of someone with horrifying intentions. As I watched Obama speak and breakdown as he spoke of the lives lost meaninglessly, I felt a sense of hope that the changes might finally come. 

Seeing a world leader in tears over what he feels is his failure to protect his people is heartbreaking, moving, and ultimately, motivating. His desire and passion for change is strong. I can only hope these changes will make the difference. 

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